When tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles collide, the results are often fatal to the occupants of the passenger vehicle. Those traveling in passenger vehicles are much more vulnerable in this type of crash because tractor-trailers weigh significantly more than passenger vehicles do and have a higher ground clearance.
Collisions between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles can be caused by the truck driver’s actions, such as improperly balancing the load, following too closely behind another vehicle or driving when drowsy. However, some crashes are caused by other drivers on the road who may not understand how to drive safely around such large vehicles.
Avoid the ‘no-zones’
Tractor-trailers have large blind spots on all four sides. These blind spots are often called “no-zones” because they are areas other vehicles should avoid lingering in. Roughly, one-third of fatal crashes between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles occur in one of the no-zones. As you share the road, it is generally safe to assume that the truck driver cannot see you if you cannot see his or her face through a window or in a mirror.
Never pass a tractor-trailer on the right side because the blind spot on the right side is especially large. When you must pass, pass on the left side without lingering beside it. Then, allow plenty of space between you and the tractor-trailer before you merge in front of it. Remember, there is a blind spot in the front of the vehicle, as well as the sides.
Do not cut off tractor-trailers
In addition to having a blind spot in the front, tractor-trailers require more distance than passenger vehicles require to come to a stop. This means that you must be extra careful to allow enough space between you and a tractor-trailer before you merge in front of it. If traffic is moving at 55 miles per hour, it could take a tractor-trailer more than the length of a football field to come to a complete stop.
Follow at a safe distance
Tailgating a tractor-trailer can be dangerous. It puts you in the rear blind spot, and put you at risk of sliding or being pushed under the back of the truck, a particularly catastrophic type of collision called underriding. In addition to the risk of underriding, following too closely behind a truck can increase your risk of colliding with debris you cannot see on the road or being hit by cargo that falls off the tractor-trailer.
Expect wide turns
Tractor-trailers must swing wide to safely complete turns. This is because the rear wheels of the tractor-trailer follow a shorter path around the corner than the front wheels do, so the front wheels must swing wide to prevent the rear wheels from traveling over the curb.
Drivers who do not realize this sometimes get confused about a truck driver’s intention to turn and may try to squeeze between the tractor-trailer and the curb. When this happens, the passenger vehicle can get crushed between the turning tractor-trailer and the curb. To avoid this, never try to squeeze between a tractor-trailer and the curb. Instead, stay far enough back to allow the truck driver to safely complete the turn.
Collisions between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles can be devastating, and often, fatal crashes that involve tractor-trailers could have been prevented. If you lost a loved one in a crash caused by someone else’s negligence, it may be appropriate to take legal action. While nothing maybe able to bring back your loved one, you may be able to receive compensation to help cover funeral expenses and other costs associated with the loss. Legal action can also hold the negligent party responsible, preventing him or her from causing similar harm to others.